Ottawa city staff recommend green light for 700,000 sq. ft. distribution centre in rural North Gower area

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Despite mounting opposition from neighbours in the City of Ottawa’s rural North Gower neighbourhood, city staff have endorsed a planned project by Montreal-headquartered Broccolini to construct a 700,000 sq. ft. e-commerce distribution building near Roger Stevens and Highway 416.

The planned Amazon-type warehouse (Broccolini hasn’t said who the final tenant will be) would require zoning and official plan amendments. City staff have recommended to Ottawa’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee that they be approved.

“While there will certainly be change, and perhaps for some, negative impacts associated with the proposed development, there can also be positive impacts associated with such a use,” staff wrote.

“The vitality and economic health of rural communities can often be associated with a viable industry that can support local business and attract renewed interest in residential housing stock or in other new development.”

However, many residents in the south Ottawa village of about 2,000 have expressed concerns about the project, concerned that it will end the area’s rural tranquility and cause traffic, noise, and light pollution in the area. Acres of farmland would be converted into a warehouse with 1,800 parking spots, dozens of loading bays, and as many as 1,700 workers – most of who will commute to the site from outside the community.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that Broccolini plans to have the warehouse built and fully occupied by 2021.

The newspaper said city staff have acknowledged hearing myriad community concerns during public consultations and at an information meeting. “Many of the comments received from residents at the meeting, including written comments received by the city, were in opposition of the proposal,” staff wrote.

City staff say traffic concerns can be addressed by “roadway modifications and intersection spacing.”  As well, the builder agreed to reduce the structure’s height from 30 to 22 metres, and there will be a “no development area” between the warehouse and residential lots on the site’s west side.

“Other concerns, including noise, lighting and landscaping, will be addressed at the site plan control stage – a phase of the development review process that deals with the fine details of a planned build,” The Citizen reported.

“I feel that we have landed in a spot that provides more protection for the nearest neighbours for from the impacts of industrial development,” wrote Coun. Scott Moffat in support of the staff recommendations. “I also believe that this application is far less impactful from an environmental perspective as well.

“That said, there are more concerns to be addressed and that time will come “through the site plan approval process.”

Broccolini has built other distribution centres, notably a massive 1.02 million sq. ft. Amazon distribution centre in Navan in southeastern Ottawa.

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